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The Celestial Tree of Kali Era – Sri Raghavendra Swamiji

Sri Raghavendra Swamiji is a magnetic force to many devotees even if they have not heard of Him. He is not a Guru of a sect of Madhva Vaishnavites. He is Jagadguru for all who seek his grace and blessings. His Brindavan is situated on the banks of River Tungabhadra on his own selection. It is not easy to put in words the greatness of Swamiji who has blessed and cured millions of devotees around the world. He only likes child-like faith in Him and Sri Rama, his adorable God. 

HISTORICAL INFORMATION 

Sri Raghavendra Swamy was born in a poor Brahmin Family endowed with great Scholarship and piety. As per tradition, he was a great devotee of Sri Vishnu King Prahlada in his previous birth. All the virtues he has earned in that avatar, is being gifted to faithful devotees as Raghavendra Swamy now. Earlier he was Sri Vyasarajaru, who was an advisor to Krishna devaraya , the celebrated ruler of Vijayanagar empire and saved him from death. He was born as Venkatanatha to Timmanna Bhatta and Gopikamba in Bhuvanagiri of Tamilnadu. His date of avatara is 1598 A.D. As a child prodigy, he learnt all subjects with ease and perfection. As all great people are put into difficulty and poverty by God, Venkatanatha lost his parents. He was educated by his brothe in law Sri Narasimhacharya, a great Scholar. Upanayana was celebrated in 1606 A, D. He became a versatile scholar in all branches of spiritual learning. He was married to Saraswati in 1616. 

Venkatanatha was well known as a scholar. But poverty was his companion. That is why He is so kind to help people who are suffering from many ailments, sometimes, incurable by doctors even now. He had a pair of Dhotis to wear and and an old house to live in. But as a man of self-respect, pious and firm believer in God, he never sought anyone’s help. Meanwhile a son was born to the couple who was named Lakshminarayana, who later wrote Sri Raghavendra Vijayam in Samskrit. 

One day as any home maker would do Saraswati Bai advised her husband to approach Sri Sudheendra Tirtha Swamiji for help. Hence, the family shifted to Kumbhakonam, where Sudheendra swamiji was running a Gurukulam. As a fast learner, Venkatanatha understood even a difficult concept in Philosophy called Ekasandhigraahi in those days. He could easily defeat stalwarts in Grammar, Logic, Philosophy and was always a winner. He got a title Mahabhashyacharya, a master in Samskrit Grammar. The King of Tanjore Raghunatha honoured him profusely. A poor boy was now rich by grace of Sri Rama whom he always worshipped. Now, Sri Sudheendra yati was getting old and decided to nominate Venkatanatha as his successor to the Madhva peetha. Though Venkatanatha was not interested in heading autt, he was given all assurances and helps to perform Upanayanam to his only son. Now Venkatanatha entrusted the family responsibility to his brother Gururajacharya. 

Sree Sudhindra yati performed Pattabhishekam to Venkatanatha as his successor in 1621 A, D. He named him as SRI RAGHAVENDRA TIRTHA. Sri Raghavendra soon after, started touring and preaching Madhva’s Philosophy. Wherever he went he got innumerable disciples due to his compassion, knowledge, accessibility to all devotees and gifting away to the needy whatever he had. In fact he supplied grains for a year to Bijapur when there was drought there. Many instances and innumerable miracles by the grace of God made him nearer to devotees. Indeed he was not resting at all. His routine started at 3.30 am, and followed by bath in the river, japa, teaching disciples, meeting farmers, public, scholars, performing Pooja to Sri RAMA-NARASIMHA-VEDAVYASA idols and meditating on the welfare of the state. He received many gifts even from Muslim rulers, Nayaks, Shivaji and many rulers of Mysore also. But he did not store anything. Whatever he got he offered it to God in deserving people. 

SOCIAL SERVICE 

Sri Raghavendra Swamiji did not confine himself to Mutt administration. He built pnds and canals where there was scarcity of water and taught people the simple, holistic spiritual way of karma yoga. He wrote 37 Works on Dvaita Philosophy in his inimitable style and made it popular in South and North of India. He saved the life of a boy in Hubli, helped shishyas to get married, and saved many from snake bite, like the son of nawab of Savanoor, to list out his miracles is near to impossibility. He made a literate Venkanna, the Diwan of Adoni, and many things which are to be remembered by us till today. He is a celestial Tree giving away whatever you want if you deserve in a shortest possible time. He is called Kamadhenu and Kalpavriksa by devotees. Sri Raghavendra Swamiji thus ruled the spiritual world for 50 years from 1621-1671 and decided to call off his physical appearance. He chose a small village Manchale, where he had performed a yajna when he was Prahladaraja, and orderd a Brindavan to be made well before. He entered Brindavan in August 1671 by giving charge of Mutt to Sri Yogeendra Tirtharu. 

Now his Mrittika Brindavans are nearly 1.000 around the world worshipped regularly by devotees who are never disappointed. To us He is a friend, Philosopher and Guide in the Spiritual Path of Life. Just remember Him whenever you are depressed, He is right there to help you. He is a messenger of God to save us from physical & mental worries, It only depends on our degree of Belief we have in Him. ||Sri Raghavendraaya Namah || 

By Professor PADMANABHA RAO 

About the Author: Prof.Padmanabha Rao is a prolific author, having published over 300 books on religion culture and biographies on the illustrious saints of India. He writes in English and Kannada. Many of his articles are published in reputed periodicals in Kannada, English, Telugu and Sanskrit.